HubSpot Toastmasters Blog


Jokes and Tips For the Toastmasters Humorist (steal this)

Posted by Steve Haase

Apr 23, 2014, 10:00 AM


Need to find a good joke or funny story? If you're filling the humorist role at your next Toastmasters meeting, you might find yourself scrambling. To help you out, here are two of my favorite jokes I've heard (or told) at HubSpot's Toastmasters meetings, plus a tip for discovering your own humorous story.

My very first time presenting at Toastmasters was to deliver the following joke, which I first heard on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, and it went over pretty darn well. It's also a good opportunity to use that Scottish accent I know you've been working on. :)

An American moves to a remote cabin on the Shetland Islands of Scotland. He hasn't seen anyone for three months until one day there's a knock at the door. He opens it to find a burly man with a scratchy sweater and a scratchier beard.

The visitors says, "I've come to invite you to a party."

Intrigued, the man replies, "A party sounds nice, what should I expect?"

"Well, there'll be drinkin'."

"Sounds good to me," replies the man, "I could use a drink."

"Then there'll be a fight. There's always a fight."

"Hmm, well, I boxed when I was in the army. I could hold my own in a fight."

"Then there'll be sex."

"Wow. Given that I haven't seen anyone in three months, sex certainly would be nice. I'm in! What should I wear?"

"Come as you are," says the burly visitor, "It's just going to be you and me."

Joke number two, ideal if you are as big a fan of puns as I am. I heard this from Thariq at our Toastmasters meeting last night.

A man walks into a nearly empty bar and orders a drink. After a few minutes he hears a voice say "Nice shirt." He looks around, sees no one near him, and goes back to his drink.

A short while later he hears the same voice saying, out of nowhere, "I like your hair."

Truly perplexed, he calls the bartender over and asks, "Where is that voice coming from?"

The bartender says, "It's the nuts."

"The nuts?" replies the man.

"Yes," says the bartender. "They're complimentary."

And now my tip for you, the humorist. A few weeks ago I was tasked with this role and decided that I would tell a funny story from my own life. After ruminating on it for a bit, I remembered the time when my family went to Las Vegas for a vacation. I know, it's funny already, but the actual story had even more comic potential than just that setup.

And so I told it, highlighting the points that truly were hilarious, speaking about the quirks, surprises, and lucky circumstances of my family on vacation in Vegas. It went over very well and also gave people an insight into my life and what has shaped me into the person I am today—a real win-win.

After telling my parents about their starring role in that evening's Toastmaster's meeting, they brought up other comical situations we've been in as a family over the years. Mind you, we're no comedians, and my life is not that different from many others. But when you've done things together, and you've suffered through less than ideal circumstances with people you love, you often find that, 5-10 years later, those stories are pretty much hilarious.

So take a quick inventory of your past. Any big mistakes or big adventures that would lend themselves to the soft humor of hindsight? Share those in your meeting for an even bigger, more satisfying laugh.

What are some of your favorite jokes or funny stories? Share them in the comments below!

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Image credit: Wikipedia



Toastmasters Evaluation on TEDxSomerville Event

Posted by Magdalena Georgieva

Mar 31, 2014, 9:21 AM

I attended TEDxSomerville over the weekend and couldn’t help but look at how and whether the talks adopted the techniques we learn at Toastmasters. The efficacy of the ideas shared varied based on the speakers’ deliveries.


I watched for the things that the more effective speakers did and compared them to the things less effective speakers were missing. Here are the top patterns I would have shared with all of them, if I could have played the role of the evaluator:

Body language

Effective speakers embraced body language on stage. Aaron Cantor, for example, gave a powerful talk on movement that you can read about here. During his speech, he did a few handstands on stage and asked the audience to join him in a simple physical exercise. He was confident to move around the stage and also do crazy things that emphasized the points he made in his talk. This definitely grabbed the attention of the audience.

The less effective speakers didn’t move around much. They looked like they were frozen, and such body language weakens their content and leaves the audience bored.

Personal story

The effective speakers usually used some sort of a personal story to introduce an idea. Such a story doesn't have to be about the speaker personally, but can be about a friend, someone they know, or even someone they made up! The point is that it will add a human touch.

Matthew Dicks, for example, walked us through the life choices that led him to a career in writing and creativity. The path that he revealed was deeply personal and enabled the audience to empathize with him. 

The weakest talks didn’t incorporate any human stories. Remember that the human element draws the audience like a magnet and keeps people engaged.



Whenever you have a chance to break the ice and make people laugh, embrace that moment. The best speakers got closer to the audience by leveraging the power of humour. George Proakis, for exampe, found ways to inject humour into his speech, even though the talk was somewhat technical - about zoning by design. The audience responded with laughter and radiated warmth, whenever Proakis used witty metaphors or made clever statements like “putting people before parking.”

Vocal variety

This won't come as a surprise, but the most effective talks followed the shape of a rollercoaster when it came to their vocality. Helen Adeosun was great at using vocal variety to keep the audience engaged. During her talk about nannies and childcare, she asked rhetorical questions, projected well, and used facial expression to support her vocal journey.

The speeches that were less effective were monotonous, seemed like were just memorized, and felt rushed.

Call-to-action & Actionable Steps

The best talks included a call-to-action at the end (or even throughout).

Some speeches were even structured as a series of steps to achieve something. Cortney Rowan, for example, talked about healthy habits and outlined a few next steps for those interested in building healthy habits: make it personal, make it a collective effort, and make it surround sound.

The talks that were less effective felt like lectures of bored high-school teachers - they were theoretical, didn't include any next steps, and didn't present any actionable lessons.

Do you agree with these? What would you add or remove? Let us know in the comments!

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5 Things All Great Speakers Know (and You Should Too)

Posted by Sarah Bedrick

Mar 4, 2014, 8:01 AM

Have you ever seen a speaker where everything seems to be going in their favor? The crowd is captivated and hanging on the speaker's every word. They bring you on a enjoyabale journey with their speech that is easy to digest. And afterward, you realize they've done one of the hardest feats of them all, moved you in some way. These are the end results of what makes great speakers so effective and powerful.


During our last ToastSpot meeting I had an epiphany. The veteran speakers of the group spoke with such ease, confidence and poise. Their stories were interesting and impactful. And this made me think, "how do they do that?" And that's when the differences that separated the good speakers from the became clear.  Here, I'd like to share some of those traits that great speakers exhibit.

And remember, the speakers who look effortless on stage are usually the ones who have spent the most time crafting this talent.  It's usually not a question of "when will this stuff become natural" but rather "how will this stuff become natural." Developing the plan to success is the first step toward action.

With that being said, let's talk about some of the qualities that expert speakers exhibit:


They have found their voice.


Have you ever witnessed a person that has great content, but when watching them something just doesn't seem right? Most people have. And that can be indicative that the presenter is still working to find their own voice. 

It's not uncommon for a presenter who is just getting started to emulate the speakers they admire. They copy their language, movement or storytelling style - and this why some presenters just don't seem natural, because it's someone elses and not their own. 

I fell victim to this in the beginning. Every time i would stand-up in front of others, I was visibly nervous. So much so, that I'm sure I made those who were watching me nervous as well (oops). But, as soon as I got less nervous (not quite "comfortable" yet) , I began trying to find and develop my "voice" or style. I wondered what would I look, sound and move like - and how would I build my own stories. After watching some incredible speakers like Susan Cain (former Toastmaster), Zig Ziglar and many TED speakers, I admired them so much, I began to emulate them. While this may have seemed like a great idea at the time, it resulted in many speeches feeling like patchwork quilts of expression. And not to mention, they was something just not completely right about them. After realizing something about this wasn't quite right, I was able to embrace who I am and my style of presenting.

While I may not be the epitome of quiet strength with poise and femininity, like Susan Cain - I did learn how to be true to myself when presenting, and that to me is priceless. 

Want to learn how to develop your own style? Check out BigFish Presentations' blog for more tips developing charisma on stage


They're fantastic storytellers.


Dale Carnegie once said, "When we are dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity."

Seasoned speakers understand this and fill their presentation with passion, emotion and stories that are relatable and moving. 

Whether you follow the "why, how, what" framework from Simon Sinek or Nancy Duarte's "what it is now, and what it can be" - or maybe one you've developed yourself, you use words to paint a beautiful picture in HD that moves your audience.  


They have full control over their body, and use it as a tool to enhance the presentation.


We all know the basics of fantastic body language on stage. We should always make eye contact, stand tall, use the entire stage, project our voice, pause in the right spots and use our body to enhance our presentation.

body language in presentations

The truth is, no matter how much we hear these, they're still difficult to master. We won't get on stage one day with a new ability to be flawlessly natural while using our body as a tool. These come with practice. 

Most of the great speakers use their body so well that most people watching their delivery never even think about it. And truth be told, great speakers don't have to give too much thought to it like they once did in the beginning. When you learn to use your body as a tool - it becomes natural. The most advanced presenters work much more on the presentation story (slides, examples, quotes, statistics, story arc, etc.) than they focus on what to do with their hands or exactly how they'll make eye contact in the crowd. 

Protip: Your body language shapes who you are. Watch Amy Cuddy's TED talk on this topic to learn a great tip about power poses to help you prepare for your next speech. 


They're more comfortable and confident on stage. 


They've already found their voice and know how to use their body - two large elements that lead to being comfortable on stage. Beyond that, they're so comfortable and confident that they can roll with the punches. Things that would throw most beginners for a loop - they can easily manage. The microphone broke? No problem, they project their voice with poise until it's fixed. Now the slide presentation clicker breaks? No problem, they've memorized their presentation or have a quick anecdote to tell while it gets fixed. A member of the audience is distracting in some capacity - no problem, they can still maintain focus and command the stage. The point is - they're confident and comfortable to a point that they're cabable of overcoming any obstacle.

And to take this a step further, the best presenters are so comfortable and confident, that they don't mind getting a bit weird or doing something different. 

Ever heard of Marcus Sheridan? He is a business owner that regularly presents at tech conferences on the power of inbound marketing. While most presenters at conferences take the stage and may rock it - he gets off the stage and gets into the crowd. He even gets the crowd involved by asking them questions - this I have never seen done before. And Marcus - does it and does it well. 


They know when to stop.


A great speaker whether delivering  a prepared speech or an extemporaneous one will always leave on a high note.

In a prepared speech, it's all in the presentation's story arc. The speaker builds an easy-to-follow story and presents it in a delightful way. They build toward the climax, deliver it and then tie the nice bow on it and end.  For the off-the-cuff extemporaneous speeches, great speakers may take a minute to find the path they're about to lay out for their speech and some build it as they go, but once they deliver the highest note - where the crowd is laughing or thinking deeply - they'll tie the bow and end it there. 

Knowing when to end a presentation is a more advanced art.

Becoming an elite speaker takes hard work. And the elite speakers don't speak because they have to, they speak because they choose to. If you're looking to become a presentation master, join a local public speaking group to learn from others who are also practicing. Find a local Toastmaster club here



Blind-bloggingly maccurate

Posted by Brad Mampe

Feb 10, 2014, 5:16 PM

Sure, public speaking is difficult. But it's not the hardest thing in the world to do.And it has a lot less to do with the technical points of talking than you’d think. To prove it, I'm writing this entire blog post blindfolded.

Why? is the obvious, sane, rationsal question most of you with human blood coursing through your veins are liable to ask. Good question, really. Public speaking can be a daunting task, and alot of it feels ...unnerving. You feel alienated. You have to battle with whatever -

I just got distracted right now. That can happen, too , when you're in front of the greoup. I might've made some ...and it happened again. I've been interrupted several times by my co-workers. It's tough. There are a lot of distractions.

I forge ahead. You, too, should do the same when speaking in front of the group. Your mike may stop working. A raucous naysayer from the audience may choose to interrupt. No one can ever really be sure when the next round of ninja hiccups is set to strike. Do not let these things deter you.

It's difficult to do this. There are a lot - and I mean a lot - of things to onsider. Really, speeches can be boiled down to two components:

1) What is the objective of my speech? That is, what is the crux of the point I'm trying to make, and how will I relay that message? Is it something insprational? Informational? Persausive? Some combination of these?
2) What about the technical components? There's volume, enunciation, gramm(a|e)r, stutters, starts/stops, "cructch words", and the like.

Issue 1 isn't really an issue for a lot of people that need to speak publicly. You have something to say. How many times have you read an article, a blog,e tc., and thought, "This ]pejorative\] doesn't know what he's talking about. I could do way better than that," or some such. Hell, how many times have you done that today? (Not including this post.)

You have opinions. You feel comfortable communicating them to your colleagues as a singularity. So what's the problem communicating them to the world? That message is there. And you have the power to communicate it.

I sense the technical aspect hangs up a fair number of would-be public speakers. "Everyone who talks publicly,

Excuse me. Let me start again. I found myself interrupted once more, and I lost my train of thought. I think people fear they won't do well because it's so very easy to get intimidated by speech technics. (Interruptions count.) I don't think this is as big a deal as people make it out to be.

If you come to Toastmasters, your technical aspects to your sepeches will be better than this post. Guaranteed. Even if you have to start and stop midway throhugh. We've all been there before.

What matters isn't whether or not you've spoken in the Queen's English; not whether your diction was supreme; a fluidly-enunciated speech doth not a publoic speech make. At the end of the day, this is icing on top of the cake. What you should ask yourself is: Did I make my point, the way I wanted to? Satisfy that reequirement first, then worry about the finer points.

I'm not trying to say that technical aspects of speech-givingt aren't important. They are. But they don't need to be the crux of what you're speaking aboutA good message will always trump any temporary flubs , though, and that's the important part. Woudl you rather have a speech where the audience walked away saying, "What a great speech, even with the ninja hiccups," or "That was perfectly-enunciated drivel". One of those is feedback I can feel good about. The other one doesn't make me feel good about why I gave the speech in the first place.

WHen you come to a Toastmasters meeting, there will be peers who will be able to help you with both of these aspects - both staying on-message, and making sure the technical aspects of your speech work. As an added bonus, we're all keenly aware of making those same kinds of errors ourselves, so the feedback is a helpful process.

Don't get hung up on the hangups. A great speech does not lie in the fewest number of grammatical inconsistencies made. It hangs, first and foremost, on the quality of its content. Can you still get my point while I'm bolgging blindly? Then you are fully qualified to stand up and communicate a point to your peers.

So, stop by Toastmasters. Share your content with us. We'll help you tighten up the important points of your message.

And I can personally guarantee you it'll be less sloppy tha n this is.



4 Core Areas to focus when preparing for your speech

Posted by Anand Rajaram

Sep 16, 2013, 4:00 PM

As you progress on your 10-speech journey towards becoming a Competent Communicator, Each speech focuses on a key concept. However, there are certain elements applicable to all speeches. None of these are surprising. In fact they are pretty obvious and kind of boring, Yet, not always followed (sort of like eating your veggies and exercising every day). They tend to make the difference between an average speech and an exceptional.

1. Know thy audience

As illustrated in Six Minutes blog, the best speeches are at the intersection of what you know, what you love and what your audience cares about. This is the most important takeaway (very obvious, yet most commonly ignored). If your audience cannot relate to the topic or doesnt care for it, nothing else matters.

2. Start with an outline

What really helps me is to have a clearly defined outline. Structuring the speech in three key parts (the opening, middle and the end) is a proven approach that gives a clear structure to your speech. I also like to memorize the opening, the end and the key transition phrases between the three parts. I typically spend 40 - 50% of my total preparation time on the outline. A strong outline is key to an engaging speech. Another practical tip, especially if you are a bit nerdy like me: When preparing your outline, opt for a whiteboard or paper. That way you can focus on it (no distracting emails) and you can easily try different approaches without feeling too committed to a single approach early on. 

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

The difference between a good speech and a great speech is practice. Yeah, this is even more obvious than "Know thy Audience" and even less followed. I'd practice in front of a mirror (or a camera) a couple of times before I practice with my mentor (If you havent already signed up for a ToastSpot mentor, you should). I have got great actionable feedback before every one of my speeches and presentations. (Special thanks to Maggie and Sarah who have helped me out on this). Practicing is the best way to weed out crutch words in your speech. If there are specific areas that you are working on, be sure to let your mentor know during the practice. For example, I always feel I dont pause enough, and ask my mentors to specifically look for that in my practice speeches. 

4. Right before the speech

Body language expert Amy says that practicing power poses before your speech could give you a sense of confidence and a "go get 'em" attitude. If you have any pre-speech rituals, go right ahead and follow them. (I tend to take a long walk to the kitchen, fill up some water and take three deliberate sips. No judging!) Make a mental note of how / where you can use the Word of the day in your speech. Look around in the audience and make a mental note of where the familiar faces are sitting. Familiar faces are a great starting point to make eye contact during your speech. 

And here is a bonus point: 

5. After the speech

Congratulations. You just took another strong step towards becoming a great public speaker. Hopefully your speech was very well received by the audience. Be easy on yourself. I often find myself in a position where I focus only on all the things that I forgot to mention or a specific transition that did not come out as I had intended. It is all right. Enjoy the rest of the evening. Be sure to take note of specific areas to work on for the next speech and make the most of the evaluators' feedback. Afterall, Toastmasters is supposed to be (and is) fun. 

What has helped you when preparing for your speech? Practice any rituals? Know any secrets ? Did I miss anything obvious? Let me know in these comments.


Why has the "I Have a Dream" speech been so successful?

Posted by Sarah Bedrick

Aug 28, 2013, 12:53 PM

Today marks the date of an important anniversary in the history of our nation - it's the 50th anniversary of when Dr. 220px-Martin_Luther_King_-_March_on_WashingtonMartin Luther King Jr. delivered his influential "I have a dream" speech during the March on Washington

Even 50 years later, many will agree that when they hear this famous speech - it evokes emotion or maybe gives them chills. But why is that? Why does this speech - a half century later - still have such a profound impact when heard? 

Of course there is the obvious - and that is the transformative message of the speech.

However, King was a leader of civil rights and it was known that his oratories focused on freedom and rights for black people in America. 

So why does this speech stand out among the rest. What about this speech has left such a commanding imprint in history. 

This speech had such power and finesse that many storytelling experts have analyzed it in depth to determine why it may have been such a success.

What many people don't realize is that the most-famous "I have a dream" passage - MLK had in fact deviated from the previously prepared speech - and was completely extemporaneous.  Many speculate the digression may have been caused by a listener, Mahalia Jackson, who shouted behind him, "Tell them about the dream!" And while he had previously talked about his dream in a similar fashion earlier that year on June 23rd at Cobo Hall during the Great March on Detroit, this was completely unscripted and improvised. Maybe it was this departure from script allowed his true emotions and uncensored passion to shine through - making it a succes.

Side note: Now there is a reason to participate in Toastmasters Tabletopics if I've ever seen one.

Storytelling expert Nancy Duarte states that a major factor of it's success is King's balance between stating "what is" and "what could be" which is said to be a great way to build an inspiring story.  See Nancy Duarte's full analysis of Dr. King's speech here

Another public speaking expert at Ginger Public Speaking cites the success of the speech was due to his confidence, cadence, the rhythm and repetition. Check out their analysis of the speech here

And maybe Malcolm Gladwell would propose that it was the perfect tipping point for his previous efforts finally coming to fruition - along with repetition.  Simon Sinek may possibly believe that MLK was able to identify the partners in the crowd that fed his energy allowing him to take his speech to the next level.

Or was it the symbolism of him speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

What do you think led to this transformative speech? Was it King's cadence, vocal intonations, the content, the juxtaposition of "what is" and "what could be," all of them - or something completely different? Please feel free to share your own thoughts below.

Oh and if you haven't seen the famous "I Have a Dream" Speech? Watch the YouTube video below:




19 Rhetorical Devices that Will Make Your Next Speech Rock

Posted by Amy Ullman

May 14, 2013, 10:00 AM

We HubSpotters certainly have a way with words. One look at our blog, or our offers or our emails, and you can see that we are highly into hyperbole (world transformation, anyone?), mostly mad about metaphors, and super silly about similes. Oh, and alliteration? Yeah, we like alliteration, too, but I promise not to use any it in this post (yep, that was irony for those of you paying attention).

Yet oftentimes, this eloquence with writing does not factor into our process when we prepare to speak in front of a crowd. Who has time to remember all of those pesky personifications and annoying antitheses? Why should we bother to employ these rhetorical devices at all?

Not only can they make your speech more memorable but easier to remember as well. How so? The Mixed_Metaphor-1ancient Greek poet Homer never penned the Iliad and the Odyssey: these epics were not committed to paper until almost 200 years after their original creation. How? What made these 10,000 plus line behemoths so memorable and sticky to natives of this oral culture? A clever, concatenation of well-placed, rhetorical and mnemonic devices. This is a technique that possesses applications even in the digital age. Steve Jobs himself used 16 in his 2007 announcement of the iPhone launch, With that said here are some concepts to keep in mind the next time you have to take that written wit from the page to the podium.

Scholars categorize these devices in a multitude of ways, but for our purposes it might be simpler to divide them into two camps: rhetorical devices that play on the significance of a word or words (also known as tropes), and those that play on the arrangement of a word (AKA schemes). 

The simplest of tropes are all the basic analogies you learned in high school English class. You probably have similes (comparisons using like or as) and metaphors (direct comparisons) down. Heck, these rhetorical devices are so pedestrian you might not even realize when you are using them in your speech. For those of you looking for something more advanced say hello to the bad boys below:

  • Anthimeria: Hard to say, but fun to use, this device is when one part of speech is substituted for another, such as noun for a verb. "Dude, I can't believe I got Rubined again. I could quit, but I would probably just Vigah."
  • Irony You probably already know this one, but it is worth covering as it fascinating when executed well (hello Seinfeld), but can be tough to identify (hello Alanis Morisette). It is defined according to Merriam Webster as "The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect." Such as when Kurt Vonnegut describes one of his characters "as pleasant and relaxed as a coiled rattlesnake" in his novel Breakfast of Champions
  • Litotes: This is hyperbole's sweet subtle cousin, where speakers deliberately understate their points in order to add emphasis. Think of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, describing his sudden amputation as "just a flesh wound."
  • Metonymy: A reference to a person, place or thing based on something associated with it, as in  the saying "the pen is mightier than the sword." where the pen stands for the writing it produces and the sword for violence. 
  • Oxymoron: Placing two opposing terms adjacent to one another. Can be used dramatically (Simon & Garfunekel's The Sound of Silence," or Milton's description of Hell's "darkness visible" in Paradise Lost) or humorously as in George Carlin's examples of military intelligence and freedom fighters.
  • Syllepsis: You could hate me for this one, but at least I did not mention the related Zeugma. Syllepsis is when a word or phrase is used in its literal and figurative sense at the same time. What makes it cool (and effing effective) is that it can often appear grammatically incorrect and forces your audience to really think about what you have said. "You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff." - Groucho Marx, Duck Soup
  • Synecdoche: Nope, not a city in upstate New York, but rather a part that represents the whole, as in using the word "wheels" to substitute for either a bike or car, or most famously, in Julius Caesar when Antony says "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." 

So enough of these trashy tropes, let's move on to some scathing schemes, those rhetorical devices that positively dance on the tongue: 

  • Alliteration: Probably the most basic of schemes - a repetition of initial sound or sounds in a series of words. Think of any tongue twister you tried your hand at as a kid....or an adult. It can add emphasis to whatever phrase, concept or story you are trying to illustrate, and honestly is just fun to say. For examples see the introductory sentence to this section or note that my favorite tropes are alliteration, anaphora, anastrophe, antithesis, and assonance, 
  • Anaphora: Repetition of the same word at the beginning of a series of sentences or phrases. We
    The_Dude_Abidescan go high brow, as in Shakespeare's Richard II "This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England," or low brow in Big Lebwoski, when the policeman tells the eponymous hero : "I don't like you sucking around, bothering our citizens, Lebowski. I don't like your jerk-off name. I don't like your jerk-off face. I don't like your jerk-off behavior, and I don't like you, jerk-off." 
  • Anastrophe: Departure from normal word order for the sake of emphasis, For truly great examples, look to everything uttered by the infinitely quotable Yoda in Star Wars. Is this something that we are going for in a speech? Probably not. But if it worked for Longfellow and his forest primeval; it can work for you too! 
  • Antithesis: A juxtaposition of opposing or contrary ideas. Think Neil Armstrong's "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," or Pope's "to err is human, to forgive divine." 
  • Assonance: (Insert cheeky comment here), Assonance is the repetition of similar vowel sounds in successive words. It's part of what makes a song stuck in your head. For all the Biggie fans out there: "Birthdays was the worst days, now we drink Champagne, cause we're Thirsty!
  • Asyndeton: While most of these schemes operate on the premise of addition, asyndeton is based on the intentional omission of conjunctions such as "and," "or," "but" etc. This gem is a surefire way to punch up the passion for those whose speech is in need of some pep. It adds speed and rhythm, telling listeners "I'm so damn excited, hurried, worked up I don't have time to use and." Plus according to Aristotle it is that rare rhetorical device which is more effective when used in oratory than in writing. 

So the next time you find yourself struggling for modes of memorization, an inkling of inspiration, a dash of drama, think of this handy dandy reference guide, you spunky speaker you.

Want to see some oratory in action?

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David Meerman Scott on Getting Started with Speaking & Making a Good Speech Great

Posted by Ellie Mirman

Apr 14, 2013, 9:00 AM

DMSA couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting David Meerman Scott, best-selling author and professional speaker, at our Toastmasters club. He was practicing a super-secret new presentation he's doing, which will hopefully be on video soon so we can share - and also see how the presentation turned out. (Update: David presented his talk on "The Need to Explore" at TEDx Amherst - check out the video at the bottom of this post.)

Not only is David an amazing speaker (and long-time HubSpot friend and advisor), he's also a Toastmaster! David co-founded a Toastmasters club in Tokyo 20+ years ago, did it for 6 years, and even served as President for part of that time. David shares - among other great tips - that Toastmasters was one of the best things he did to build the basic speaking skills that led to where he is today.


Watch the video to hear David's tips for Toastmasters:


David shared his thoughts on two points:

Terrified of public speaking?

Practice among friends! That's why David recommends Toastmasters - it's a great way to get experience so that you improve your skills and get more comfortable.

Looking to make a good speech great?

Great speeches have a lot of elements that need to come together - from body language to content to so much more. David works with a speaker coach to focus on a particular aspect of his speech for each presentation. For one presentation it might be eliminating distracting movement, in another, it might be adding more dramatic pauses. Pick one element you want to work on in each speech you deliver (hey, that sounds like the Toastmasters program!).

David is a big proponent of Toastmasters and shared, "Toastmasters is so great because it gives you a chance to speak in front of a welcoming and encouraging audience that can help you get better."

Thanks to David for making it out to our club - can't wait for you to attend an upcoming meeting!

And now, David Meerman Scott's TEDx talk on "The Need to Explore" - congrats, David, this turned out fantastic!


Recap and Lessons Learned from my 1st HubSpot External Speaking Experience

Posted by Nick Salvatoriello

Apr 12, 2013, 9:11 AM


I wanted to write and let our subscribers know that my 1st speaking opportunity outside of HubSpot was... a success!

How did I qualify for such an opportunity to speak on HubSpot's behalf, outside the company?  

I qualified for HubSpot's external speaking program, which is sponsored by HubSpot Toastmasters!


What was the audience and the topic I spoke on?

“How To Pitch Business”
That’s the topic for Marketing to the High End Bride XV, which took place Thursday, March 21st at the beautiful Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Boston.

Here is an overview of the event/topic that was posted on the event organizer's website:

View a screen-recording recapping my experience, some of the content I presented, and my lessons learned from the event:


Click here to view my recap presentation

So, how did I do on the video? How many crutch words? ;)  Feel free to give me my uh/um count in the comments below!


Key Take-Aways and Resources:

The most gratifying part of the whole experience?  The thank you messages from the event organizers....sent directly to Mike Volpe!  See the thoughtful note sent by Randy Cronk, who helped organize the event to our VP of Marketing, Mike Volpe:

Hi Mike --

I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to two of your stars, Nick and Judy, for all the great content they provided at a panel yesterday hosted by my wife, Arlene, that took place in the main ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental, Boston.

Arlene produces and hosts a twice-yearly event called "Marketing to the High-End Bride," the largest gathering of wedding industry professionals in New England. Yesterday's panel topic was "How to Pitch Business" and Judy and Nick brought the inbound marketing perspective.

The audience really seemed excited and a lot of business cards were exchanged -- so thanks also to HubSpot for making these great people available.


Isn't that nice that the organizers of the event followed up like that?  And also, Mike Volpe saw the email responded with a thank you that very same day!  This put me on the map, baby!  ;)


Pro Tip for External Speaking Opportunities: Always send a thank you note and include your fellow panelists!

This is definitely a tip worth remembering - if you're invited to speak, especially on a panel, the pro's will follow up THAT DAY with a thank you note to the organizers and the panelists who helped them shine.  Follow up is so important.  If you'd like to see an example from one of our panelists, Bonita, check out what she shares in her thank you note here:

Bonita wrote:
"Thank you for including me as a panelist for the incredible HEB XV event this morning!! It was a true honor. Everyone did a wonderful, and the venue just looked stunning (not that I expected anything less).

Hope you received some great feedback, and can't wait to hear what people conveyed on the comment cards.

Talk soon,

In Conclusion:

It was an honor to be a part of the panel, to represent our company and to serve my fellow colleagues in the wedding industry.  I got a huge boost from knowning I could use my speaking talents and skills developed in HubSpot Toastmasters to help others outside our company to succeed and grow their businesses and themselves professionally. There's so much potential for all of us, if we can find more ways to speak outside the company, like I did last through month's panel discussion.




Five Favorite Cures for Public Speaking Anxiety

Posted by Amy Ullman

Mar 22, 2013, 8:30 AM

I was inspired by this awesome article from the Harvard Extension School on conquering your fear of Fear-Of-Public-Speakingpublic speaking. One of the biggest reservations that prospective speakers voice is the fear of so-called failure. They see more seasoned speakers, and immediately think "I could never do that!" On the contrary, my friends! You most certainly can! You are a bright, creative snowflake with a unique point of view worth sharing! So don't be selfish: read on for 5 quick tips on how you can slay the savage beast that is speaking anxiety.

1. Always have a supportive face in the crowd.

Be they friend, colleague, or family member just knowing that there is someone in the audience that is rooting for you and wants you to succeed can offer a tremendous boost of confidence. So do what you can to make sure that happens:

  • Send out an invite well in advance to notify friends about your prospective speech.
  • Scan the roster of attendees in advance to see if you can find a familiar face.
  • If you are lucky enough to find someone, try to coordinate with them to make sure that they are front and center come game time!

2. Prepare in advance....

One of the most effective cures for speaking anxiety is to be prepared. Rehearsing a few times in advance, either with a mentor, friend, or family can go a long way in order to make you feel confident in regards to the subject matter. Don't have anyone handy the night before? Practice in front of a mirror (no, I am not kidding). Even if you know it in your head, actually forcing yourself to get up and practice in advance will go a long way to cure your jitters. No matter how sloppy, any advance prep work will be an asset come game time.

3. But not too much!

In the words of Voltaire, "Perfect is the enemy of good."  Writing out a very detailed speech and then attempting to memorize it verbatim, can often backfire. Putting additional pressure on yourself to not only get up in front of an audience and speak, but also memorize a script is often a recipe for disaster. Or at the very least result in you being a slave to your notes.

4. Deep breathing

Yes, I'm serious! This tried and true advice exists for a reason - it really works. I'm not suggesting that you should start rocking the Ujjayi breath mid-speech (although I could recommend some awesome HubSpot yogis and yoginis who would be happy to help with that), but employing this technique prior to go time can definitely make a difference. Additionally, if you find yourself struggling for words, use that opportunity to pause, breathe and regroup. It might feel like an eternity, but remember that silence is golden and can add power to your words.

5. What's the worst that can happen?

They're all going to laugh at you? You humiliate yourself in front of your peers? Not a chance! No speech is perfect. No matter how gifted the delivery there is always room for improvement. So sit back and relax and get excited about the chance to express yourself.

Not only is a little anxiety normal, it is healthy (and Forbes agrees with us!). In the words of Mark Twain, “There are two kinds of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” Even the most poised speakers still get nervous from time to time, especially when they embarked on the first few speeches. Oftentimes a little bit of anxiety can work to your advantage, providing an edgy snap, crackle, and pop of energy to your presentation. So use it to your advantage!

Want a chance to conquer your public speaking anxiety once and for all? Join us the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month in Benioff for a HubSpot Toastmasters meeting. Want a little more information before you attend? Feel free to reach out to a mentor.


About the ToastSpot Blog

Welcome to the ToastSpot blog!

Here you can find articles on:

  • How to get the most out of Toastmasters
  • Examples of awesome speeches
  • Announcements about upcoming events
  • How to come up with ideas for your next speech
  • Highlights from recent meetings, including some of the entertaining and inspiring speeches from our members

Have requests? Reach out to us - we'd love to know what YOU want to read about. We also welcome guest bloggers - feel free to come to us with suggestions for your next article.

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